Your help has made a huge difference to the work of the Basement Project

At this festive time, I write (through your columns) to thank those who have helped people on the margins of society, particularly those who are homeless and suffering from addictions.

I recall last year, the man who lay huddled outside the Halifax Parish Church, as funds were being raised by those who were more fortunate.

I asked, as the cuts were beginning to bite, that we ought to be mindful of setting one ‘needy group’ against another, and I asked the question, “Surely a civilized society should be measured on how it treats its poorest?”

Well I am happy to say that over the last 12 months we have seen many different acts of kindness, some random, some more thought out, but each coming from very different sectors in our society.

Over the Christmas period, we would like to thank Sainsburys for their continued support, the Tower House Hotel, those who have sent contributions through Localgiving and the Community Foundation for Calderdale who have been supportive of our organisation when others have turned away.

We have also been fortunate to witness people going beyond obligation to support others in need; a local solicitor who tramped the streets and the bureaucratic systems facing the homeless and unemployed to help a client, recovery elders who have given their time to provide guidance and support to those new in recovery and who have challenged the stigmatisation of addiction.

Most poignantly, we have also received donations this year from those who have lost loved ones from addiction and their thought and generosity goes way beyond obligation, and we hope to repay the kindness with the work and support we provide to people still in active addiction and with those who are now on the journey of recovery. Many of these acts of kindness have been in goods and money which are desperately needed, but most have been acts of simple human kindness.

As we reflect on 2011, and look forward to 2012, many people are still musing on the concept of the Big Society, we included. All we can say is that these acts of kindness show us that grand ideologies, policies and political posturing have little impact or meaning.

For us, the small things really do make a difference. As one person goes beyond obligation, as we embrace the Native American Traditions of ‘Warrior Down’ to take care of our immediate community of recoverees, and as we teach the concepts of giving back in the volunteering that we do, we are making a difference to peoples’ lives in the community of Calderdale.

As for the man who was homeless last year, his legacy has been that we have worked hard this year to find a bed for everyone who has walked through our doors in need of somewhere to stay, and as for 2012, we will continue to measure our success by how we treat our poorest. As Calderdale MBC, reflects on the coming budgets and cuts, let’s hope they too take into account, how they treat their poorest.

The Basement Project would like to wish everyone a safe, peaceful and more prosperous New Year.

Michelle Foster.